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Olympic Journal: Bill and Nancy Bauer

February 9, 2002
By William and Nancy Bauer

What, if any, emotional attachment does the average skier have for Minnesota athletes heading for SLC? That's a question we have been unable to answer since 1992. As parents of one such athlete, we have to admit, it's darn tough to be emotionally detached. How does it feel to be the parent of an Olympic participant? It feels good, no doubt about it. All parents probably live vicariously through their children to a certain extent. We have to remind ourselves that on the timeline of human existence, the Olympics is but a blip, something less than a pencil dot in history. Adversity and loss of friends through illness and accidents have a way of keeping things in perspective.

And then there is the love a parent has for all of his/her children. We have two sons. Both are talented. One is gifted. It is terribly hard on a parent to witness the effects of the shadow effect. Parents can love their children equally. It is a more difficult task to treat them equally, despite extraordinary efforts. People congratulate us and suggest we must be very proud of John. Our answer is that we are proud of both our sons.

As students of history, we recognize that for most of human existence we have been warring and inhumane one to another. Given our choice, we would rather foster civility than athletics. We would rather witness everyday people cooperating with one another in an effort to create peace and healthy lifestyles. While sport was designed to foster fair play and sensitivity to others, we fear it is on a runaway money course. Unfortunately that occasionally extends to "amateur sport" such as the Olympics. Many teams and individuals participating in modern Olympics are highly paid professionals. Of course as parents, we know that criticism doesn't exactly fit the USA men's and women's ski world. These kids are scratching for an existence and training on their own. And for the same reason, it seems to us, cross country skiing in all its forms, remains as one of the truly amateur sports, at least in the US. That's why we, like so many of you reading this, understand that one doesn't need to be Norwegian or Swedish to live for this lifelong sport.

And as for John Bauer, for those of you who don't know him well, we'd just like to say that you better never count him out. He's full of surprises, but with all due modesty, he comes as close to anyone we know who personifies amateur sport and fair play. For this and a thousand other reasons, we're excited about arriving in Salt Lake City on Sunday to witness part of the 2002 Olympics. Thanks to all of you who have sent well-wishes and congratulations. You are part of the reason for the success our Minnesota athletes enjoy. You also a big part of their character. Thanks!

Nancy and Bill Bauer

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